Interviewee: Betty Parker
Interviewer: Carrie Streeter
Date: November 12, 2010.
Betty Parker was born in 1944, in Statesville, NC. She received her education in nursing at Lenoir-Rhyne College, with clinical experience at Grace Hospital, and she graduated in 1967. From 1968 to 1973, she trained nurses in a diploma program at Broughton Hospital, a state psychiatric hospital. She obtained a masterâs degree from USC-Columbia in 1981 and then worked to become certified as a clinical specialist in 1986. At one point, she taught at Western Piedmont Community College. She returned to work at Broughton Hospital in 1987.
In the interview, Parker speaks about her family background and childhood, particularly the early influences that affected her decision to become a nurse. She describes her education. She explains the circumstances that led her into psychiatric nursing and the reasons that she enjoyed it. She reflects on the differences between psychiatric nursing and other specialties and the skills she sees as necessary for a psychiatric nurse. Parker talks about treatment team meetings and compares the nurse/doctor dynamic in psychiatric care to that of other healthcare settings, focusing particularly on its advantages. She also discusses the relationship between nurses and patients, speaks about strategies for connecting with patients, and talks about her contact with patientsâ families. Parker describes her mentors in nursing and in psychiatric care. Parker reads a poem aloud that was written for her by a patient. She also describes her duties as a CNS and her reasons for choosing that avenue of mental health nursing.
Parker discusses the changes she has observed over the course of her career, both at Broughton and in psychiatric nursing in general. She describes the organization of Broughton wards when she began work in 1968 and compares the hospitalâs now-inactive âfarm colonyâ to modern work therapy. She discusses the Community Mental Health Act of 1963 and the move to deinstitutionalize many patients. Parker talks about changes in medications and therapies. She reflects on current and growing issues in psychiatric healthcare.